Economic Focus – Taiwan

Taiwan is embarking on a new journey as Ma Ying-Jeou the presidential candidate for Kuomintang has finally beaten Chen Shui-bian in the presidential election this week (I was actually hoping for Mr Chen to shoot  himself again).

The election was a landslide victory for Ma with him getting 58% support against his rival’s 42% in a high turnout election according to Newsweek.  So what explains the downfall of Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party?

As one of the original high-growth Asian Tigers, Taiwan’s economy seems to be no less vibrant today. GDP growth was 5.7% in 2007 while unemployment stood at only 3.9%. Yet as we delve in deeper, we find that some of the economic figures distort the real situation in Taiwan.

First, according to the Time Magazine, the economy is not generating a higher standard of living for the regular citizen. Second, the average family income grew a total of 1% between 2000-2006. Third, unemployment among university graduates is highest among any education category.

Furthermore, alot of Taiwan firms have opened factories in China in pursuit of lower costs and have already invested $65 billion on the mainland since 1991 (other estimates run to $ 100 billion or more). To add to that, some one million Taiwan citizens live in China (out of the island’s 23 million population).

Ma’s trump card? He wants direct transportation and trade links to the mainland. He also champions the opening up of Taiwan to chinese tourists and investors, and at the same time reducing restrictions in China.

No wonder he won the election.

Source: Time Magazine & Newsweek

Facts – BBC

  • Formal name: Republic of China (ROC)
  • Population: 22.7 million (government statistic, 2004)
  • Capital: Taipei
  • Area: 36,188 sq km (13,972 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Mandarin Chinese (official), Min Nan Chinese (Taiwanese)
  • Major religions: Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 73 years (men), 79 years (women) (government statistics)
  • Monetary unit: 1 New Taiwan dollar (NT$) = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Computer equipment, textiles, basic metals, equipment, plastic and rubber products, vehicles
  • GNI per capita: US $17,230 (World Bank, 2006)
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